There’s been changes of course. Change of job. Moved house.
Both directly a result of the whole breast cancer experience.
The job change was needed – to move away from living and working with cancer. And now I sit in a children’s hospital research centre. Managing paediatric studies is pretty far from cancer. Particularly since this hospital has a separate oncology group and my centre oversees everything else. And yes. At this point it is “my” centre as I manage the centre and the staff and projects.
The house move? Well we moved from our big house to… A big apartment. And the kids all came too – which is why it had to be a big apartment!
Our lives have become simpler. Less tied to maintenance and upkeep. And for the first time ever I have a garden. Actually, three gardens on three balconies. Strawberries. Tomatoes. Hedges. Grapes. Lettuce. Herbs. Geraniums. Lots of geraniums. All red to remind us of our time in France earlier this year. The image here is of the balcony off our bedroom. Watching a summer storm rolling in.
And yes. Just a few days ago the third year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis past. No sign so far of it coming back – but my annual scans are due in January so an element of anxiety is setting in. Particularly in the early am when I’m lying awake (insomnia is a side effect of the drug I take daily to try and keep cancer from coming back).
Breast cancer does not dominate my life anymore and I rarely visit the support sites I used to. This is good – I think…
Whoever you are – I wish you a blessed Christmas and New Year this year.
So back in December 2011 I had to figure out how to break the cancer news to my “world”. What better place than Facebook hey?
Reading back over these statuses just makes me amazed at how cheerful and upbeat I seemed to be. No outward sign to the world of the devastation this was wreaking. Nothing to indicate that I came home from that first surgery and sobbed on our wardrobe floor for an hour…
And see! I thought it would all be OVER by February. Hah! Visiting the chemo suite won’t be over until February this year. I will be taking Tamoxifen until 2017, and I still need more surgery to finish off my new breasts. I was so naive.
THE FIRST NEWS
DECEMBER 7 2011
Sitting down? Comfortable?
GOOD NEWS: my surgeon is lovely and I like her. She was receptive to my “clinical researcher” questions and there was some intelligent discussion about hazard ratios and outcome statistics. Tumour is small and because of where it is she felt strongly that a wide excision (lumpectomy) was my best option. This means that surgery on Friday should be relatively simple and I probably won’t even stay overnight in tne hospital. I’m on track to be back at work on schedule and may even go back a week earlier (I LOVE MY JOB!)
THE BAD NEWS: My tumour receptor status came back this morning and the news on this is not so good. I am ER+ PR+ and Her2+(3+). The first two are good. The last one makes it BAD. This takes my 5yr survival down from 93% to 77% immediately and the news could be worse if this thing has made it through my lymph nodes to other parts of my body, which we don’t know yet.
Surgery Friday. Follow-up clinic next Thursday when I will find out if this has made it to my lymph nodes. After that I will have appts in the next few weeks with a rad onc and the chemo onc, because I will need both. They will find out if I have cancer spread to anywhere else…
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS?
I will be back at work in the new year 🙂 I will start chemo and have been assured by the wonderful breast specialist nurse today that MANY MANY women undergoing chemo continue to work successfully. I may need to work some days at home though and I may need a few days off. I was very concerned about this because in my job I see the instances of problems, not the many many people with no problems or side-effects.
I will lose my hair. Tony just gave me my Christmas present early because of this. He bought me a GHD hair straightener :-). I’ll use it a lot in the next few weeks 🙂 Then I will worship it from afar for 6 months.
PS (if you are still with me) I’m tired. Please do plan on coming and giving me a hug next week, but please don’t everyone phone this week as I am out having prep stuff done. And, DON’T use the word sad around me. Sad is for funerals and I’m a fair way off one of those right now :-)”
“Being brave is making a conscious choice to get on a scary ride even though you’re terrified. Having cancer is waking up on the scary ride, being terrified, and holding on with your teeth gritted. If you’ re really lucky someone will eventually let you off.”
So this quote (unknown source) is one I shared on Facebook back in December 2011 after my initial diagnosis and surgery to remove the breast cancer from my right breast.
Some people liken the experience of breast cancer and its treatments to a battle. A war against breast cancer some say. But how can you be at war with your own body? If you’ve “lost the battle” does that mean you are a failure?
No. I do not believe that this experience has been a battle. It really has been more like the rollercoaster ride described in the quote above…